|Release: 11/29/2021||Download: Enhanced | MP3|
|Run Time: 81 min||Subscribe: Enhanced | MP3 | RSS|
Ten is a press your luck card game with a twist. The goal is simple: assemble the longest runs of consecutive cards in four colors. How many cards are you willing to draw as you push two different totals closer and closer to ten? Use currency cards to buy from the market or win auctions for wild cards. Be careful, though! If you bust, everyone else may cash in.
Engaging, interactive, and filled with tough decisions, Ten is great for all ages. Listen in to explore the game and discover how Ten delivers on its promise of Major Fun.
ALSO in this episode… a Game Night Grab Bag segment featuring Brenna Noonan and Doug! The challenge: games where you build the board as you play.
Designer: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich
Artist: Shawn Stankewich
1-5 players 15-30 min. ages 10+ MSRP $20
Time to teach/learn: 2-3 minutes
D: Steffen Benndorf
A: Christian Opperer
P: NSV, Pandasaurus Games
2-4 players 20 min. ages 8+ MSRP $15
5 minutes to learn
Written by: Doug Richardson
Cherry blossom season is about to blanket Zen gardens with their resplendent wonder. Water, vegetation, stones, and sakura trees must be placed in perfect harmony in order to become a Master Gardener.
Over three rounds you will carefully select or reject the elements for your next garden creation. Do you have the skills to craft the best Zen garden?
Ohanami is played with a deck of 120 cards, numbered from 1 to 120. Each card depicts one of four elements: water (blue), plants (green), stones (grey), or cherry blossoms (pink).To help score your game, a handy pad of scoresheets is included.
Ohanami is a card drafting and set collecting game. Over three rounds, players will hope to be the most masterful gardener by drafting and scoring sets of elements by skillfully adding these to their three gardens.
Each round starts by dealing ten cards to each player. Then players select two cards to keep for their gardens.
Once you’ve chosen two cards, you will pass the remaining cards on to the next player. Before you look at any new cards, all players will reveal the two cards they’ve selected, and place them into one of three gardens or discard them.
These two cards may go into the same garden or into separate gardens. Either way, you’ll only have three gardens for the entire game. And you’ll find the cards you place define the limits of your gardens.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you’ve selected the blue 68 and the green 75. You decide to put this water feature and that bit of shrubbery into the same garden. From now on, only cards numbered higher than 75, or lower than 68 may be put in this garden.
In other words, you may never place a card with a number that falls between two other cards into a garden. Such a card will have to go into one of your other gardens, or be discarded from the game.
So, on one hand, you’ll be selecting cards based on their number to fit into your gardens. BUT, you’ll also choose cards to play based on how each color group scores.
At the end of the first round, only the blue water feature cards will score. Count the total number of blue cards in your gardens and earn 3 points for each of them. None of your other cards will score in round one.
In round two, both your blue water cards, and your green plant cards will score. Blue will again earn you 3 points apiece. Green will be worth 4 points each. Note: you are scoring for all the blue and all the green in your gardens, not just the cards you added during this round.
At the end of round three, all your cards will score one more time. Blue 3 points and green 4. Now your grey stone cards will score, and you’ll get 7 points for each of them.
Finally, your pink cherry blossom cards will score.
If you have one lone pink card, you’ll get 1 point. Two pink cards get you 3 points, 3 pink cards are worth 6 points (1 + 2 + 3 = 6, etc.)…all the way up to 120 points for 15 or more pink cards.
So, let’s review. Draft two cards each turn. Choose to either fit them into one of your three gardens or discard them. Draft and pass through ten cards per hand over three rounds. Score the relevant elements of your growing garden each round. Highest score wins and becomes the Master Gardener!
First, some context, in Japan a Hanami is a planned excursion, a sort of picnic and stroll under the blossoming cherry trees. Life slows, and time is taken to appreciate the beauty of rock and water, bush and flowering trees.
People use Zen gardens to disentangle themselves from the cares of everyday life, and engage with nature. In the same way, Ohanami the game allows us to engage with the nature of play itself.
When we sit down to play any tabletop game, we accept the fact that we are fooling ourselves. We haven’t really become kings commanding great armies, or builders erecting a city, or farmers growing the best crops. We are merely players, abiding by a set of rules, and using simple items of paper and plastic and wood to depict our imaginary world.
All games are abstractions. Some games refuse to put on airs. What is the theme of checkers? Doesn’t matter; just capture your opponent’s pieces and win.
Some games go to elaborate ends to try and convince you of their made-up “reality”. These are usually found in gigantic boxes crammed with elaborate carved pieces and fantastic terrain. And generally with a fantastic price attached.
By comparison, you might think Ohanami isn’t even trying. 120 cards and a scorepad? Really? Well, hold on, I think Ohanami is one of the most thematic games around.
Who are we? Clearly, we are gardeners, assigned the task of creating three Zen gardens. The pieces we choose for these gardens must both fit (numerically) and add up to a pleasing whole.
Each turn you sort through the goods on offer and select two candidates to take back to your workshop. Hopefully, you’ve chosen well and can fit these new pieces into your expanding gardens.
Of course, you’ll keep an eye on what your rivals are doing. No sense leaving all the choicest pieces to them! Which means you view each small decision with both an eye toward your gardens, and a glance over the fence at what is happening next door.
Because your concern is with both the numbers on the cards and the types of landscape they represent, both the mathematical and aesthetic parts of your brain are involved in every decision. In a very simple way, this mimics why people enjoy zen gardens: engagement.
Because the rules are brief, you are playing within moments. Even with your first choices, you are setting the constraints of your three little worlds. In a flash, a round is over and scored. Repeat twice and the game is done.
And yet Ohanami never feels rushed. The lightness of rules allows you to notice the smallest detail: to appreciate the gardens around you and compare them with your own – to feel the world stop for 20 minutes and appreciate the joy of play.
Ohanami creates a pleasing challenge out of mere pasteboard and ink, which replicates the experience of enjoying a well laid out garden. A subtle experience, but yet one available to anyone old enough to know their numbers and colors.
Finding a game which plays quickly is easy. Finding one which plays quickly and deeply and with a structure which supports the theme of the game is much rarer.
Ohanami is a short, but evocative game. It is accessible to almost anyone. The gift it gives us is time: leaving us to look forward to many years beneath the cherry blossoms in quiet, playful contemplation.
A game with such humble beauty and quiet pleasure needs no fanfare. Exactly the reason we find it so worthy of both our awards.
Written by: Doug Richardson
|Release: 5/14/2021||Download: Enhanced | MP3|
|Run Time: 42 min||Subscribe: Enhanced | MP3 | RSS|
It’s a garden party in Neverland.You came for the tea and cookies, but the Mad Hatter has other plans. You are swept into a game gathering wondrous and colorful hats, a hurricane of haberdashery a maelstrom of millinery. The clock is ticking… in eight short turns, by swapping cards on the tea table, can you assemble the most cherished collection of chapeaus?
Tune in to explore this card shedding, set collecting game and discover why Hats is Major Fun!
Thundergryph Games | BGG | Buy
Designer: Gabriele Bubola
Art: Paolo Voto
Publisher: Thundergryph Games
2-4 players 20-30 min. ages 10+ MSRP $25
Time to teach/learn: 3-4 minutes
|Release: 3/29/2021||Download: Enhanced | MP3|
|Run Time: 90 min||Subscribe: Enhanced | MP3 | RSS|
A coaster with 17 loops… a pirate ride that actually sinks… a fairyland with unicorns you can pet… and did I mention – six foot corndogs! How would you build the theme park of your dreams? Funfair gives you a chance to do just that.
Play cards to assemble an exciting mix of five attractions. Add enhancements and staff, match blueprints, and build a showcase feature to bring in the crowds
Funfair nudges players to indulge the simple pleasure of surrendering to a flight of fancy. Build a fantastic world over the course of six rounds – a world to delight the child in all of us – a world that will make your park a must-see destination for generations to come.
Listen in to explore the game and discover why it earns both our Spiel of Approval and the Major Fun Award!
Designer: Joel Finch
Art: Mr. Cuddington
Publisher: Good Games Publishing
2-4 players 30-60 min. ages 8+ MSRP $40
Time to teach/learn: 10 minutes
|Release: 3/15/2021||Download: Enhanced | MP3|
|Run Time: 90 min||Subscribe: Enhanced | MP3 | RSS|
Let’s take a bike trip around northern Taiwan. So much to see!
The night markets in Taichung, the great Buddha statue in Changhua, the Hakka Round House in Maioli, the Science Park in Hsinchu, Da Xie Old Street in Taoyuan, Cape Santiago in New Taipei City and Liberty Square in Taipei City just to name a few….
Play scenery cards to visit as many sites as you can over the course of nine stops. The traveler who plans the best and pedals great distances will score well and create a memorable trip.
Ubike Tours: Taiwan draws inspiration from two beloved modern classics: Six Nimmt and the 10 Days In series. It combines familiar mechanisms with a clever press-your-luck element to create a lovely balance of strategy and chance.
Grab a bike, explore each option and be ready to pounce when opportunity presents itself. There’s a fun world waiting for you in Ubike Tours: Taiwan behind the flip of every card.
Tune in explore the game and discover why it is Major Fun!
Ubike Tours: Taiwan
Designer: Chih-Fan Chen
Publisher: Big Fun Games
2-4 players 30 min. ages 8+ MSRP $30
Time to teach/learn: 3-5 minutes
|Release: 10/12/2020||Download: Enhanced | MP3|
|Run Time: 28 min||Subscribe: Enhanced | MP3 | RSS|
There’s a party at the club and all the animals from the neighborhood are clamoring to get in! Each turn, a new animal arrives in the line, jostling to get past the bouncer.
The tall Giraffe can step past shorter animals one at a time. The sneaky Weasel scootches past bigger animals. The speedy Cheetah replaces the slowest animal. The hungry Crocodile eats all animals lower on the food chain.
When the line is filled with five beasts, the club doors open and the first two animals in line are let into the bar. How many of your party animals can you get into the Beasty Bar before the night is over?
Beasty Bar is a family of whimsical card games with elements of trick-taking and hand management. Each game features the same core set of rules but adds a new set of animals and abilities to explore. You can play each game separately or combine cards across editions to create your own deck of twelve party animals.
Listen in to discover why we we aren’t lion when we say Beasty Bar is a whale of a good time (and also Major Fun).
The Beasty Bar Family of Games
Beasty Bar Zoch Verlag | BGG | Buy
Beasty Bar : New Beasts in Town Zoch Verlag | BGG | Buy
Beasty Bar : Born to Be Wild Zoch Verlag | BGG | Buy
Designer: Stefan Kloss & Anna Appolzer
Publisher: Zoch Verlag
Artist: Alexander Jung
2-4 players 20 min. ages 8+ MSRP $20
Time to teach/learn: 8-10 minutes
Designer: Darren Kisgen Art: Chris Beatrice
Publisher: Gamewright, Game Factory
2-4 players 20-30 minutes ages 10+
Time to teach & learn: 5-10 minutes
Pack your lucky socks and get ready for an adventure exploring Dragonrealm! Sneak into the witch’s cabin, search the ogre’s treehouse, or storm the dragon’s lair. Explore the wilds and add adventurers to different locations in the hope of getting the most treasure. But watch out for goblins who might get there first and grab the treasure before you!
Dragonrealm comes with lushly illustrated cards, plus custom wooden pawns and dice.
There are 68 adventurer cards, most of which you’ll use to assail the locations in the game. Adventurer cards come in 5 different colors, and are numbered from 1-12. In addition, a few adventure cards will trigger the arrival of goblins or an untimely rockslide.
There are 16 enhancement cards to aid you in your journey.
There are 21 large format location cards. Locations come in four colors, representing the different obstacles and trials you will face on your quest. There are spaces for adventurers and goblins, plus icons detailing the type and difficulty of challenges at that location. Each adventure will culminate at a dragon location card, where great challenge and great treasure awaits!
The game is packed with chunky wooden pawns. Each player gets 8 adventurers to represent your team . There are also 6 custom wooden goblins that are sure to be annoying and get in your way as you play.
The 6 custom dice will see constant action as you play. Each die is numbered from 1-4, with two 2s and 3s, and a single 1 and 4.
Last but not least, the one thing both you and the goblins want most, a pile of 50 treasure coins!
To begin, deal 5 Adventurer cards to each player. Each player also gets to choose some enhancements to take along. A Fireball Spell could get you out of a jam. A Potion of Invisibility might get us past some guards. Or perhaps your Pet Chipmunk could overwhelm a monster with its cuteness! Then, create a deck of 7 location cards, including 2 cards from each color, ending with a dragon location. The road to adventure begins here. You’re ready to explore Dragonrealm!
In Dragonrealm, players will collect sets of cards. Playing different sets of cards allows your adventurers to roll dice to explore and take over locations.
The goal of the game is to accumulate more treasure than your fellow adventurers.
On your turn you have two choices: Explore or Rest.
When you Explore, you play from 1-6 cards from your hand to deal with a location in one of three ways: Sneak, Search, or Storm. The method you select will depend on the strength and weakness of your party of adventurers, that is, the cards in your hand.
Sneak lets you play cards in a row, regardless of color ( a 4-5-6, for example).
A thorough Search requires cards all of the same number (three 8s, for example).
Feeling bold? Storm a location with a hand of cards of the same color.
Once you select a method, call out the action and the location.
“I am going to Sneak into the Cave of Bats,” for example.
For each card you play that fits the action you declared, you’ll roll one of the custom dice. Add all the dice together to see how you did.
Each location shows different target numbers required to successfully place an adventurer.
If you Sneak into the Cave of Bats, the action here will require a total of 8 from the dice to reach the target number, a Search needs a total of 6, and a Storm action needs a whopping total of 13. But notice the yellow ring around the 13. That indicates you’ll place two of your adventurers, should you succeed. Risky, but taking a chance may pay off in big ways!
If your Explore works out, you’ll place an adventurer (or two!) and discard the cards you used. Now draw one card, and your turn is over.
Of course, not every die roll will go your way, so failure is an option. Should you fail, you’ll place one of your adventurers on the Adventurers Academy for further training. From there, they may assist your team in future Explore actions. During future Explore turns, each member of your team on the Academy card can add +1 to your die total.
The bulk of your game will be spent exploring, hoping to place adventurers on location cards in order to score points when the card fills. But to do this well, you must have cards to power your team.
Rest allows you to add 2 cards to your hand, either from those face up, or face down from the deck. You’ll be building up your hand to power future exploits. Which cards will propel your team towards victory? If you’re looking to Search, you’ll want to gather cards of the same number. If you want to Sneak, pick up numbered cards that are in sequence. If you’re planning on Storming, look for cards of the same color.
Of course, drawing cards may also allow goblins to seize a spot in a location, or trigger a rockslide.
If a goblin card is revealed, you’ll place a goblin on the indicated location. They will compete with the players to claim their share of treasure. Any gold goblins win is hauled away, never to be seen again.
If you trigger a rockslide you’ll be forced to pass a number of cards from your hand to an opponent. Rest assured, your opponents won’t be passing you anything they think you can use.
As your adventure advances, locations will begin to fill up with player’s pawns and pesky goblins. As soon as a card is filled, its treasures have been completely explored. Now some players will be rewarded with treasure.
If you have the most adventurers on the card, you get the first place award shown on the card. Players with the second most markers on a location collect the lower amount of coins. The top player also collects the card for its value in dragonstones. At the end of the game, the player with the most dragonstones gets a five coin bonus.
A new card from the location deck is revealed to replace the explored one.. The quest continues, culminating in a final conflict with a dragon, the last card in the location deck. Once the dragon is defeated, the game ends and any remaining locations are scored as if they were complete. Now everyone adds up the treasure they have collected and includes the value of any enhancements worth coins. The player with the most dragonstones collects five extra coins. The player with the most treasure wins!
Dragonrealm drills down to extract the essence of any role playing game—the brave party, tackling dangers together, but each with an eye for individual glory and gain. Sure, we are all working together to defeat the dragon–but still, I’m Looking Out for Number One! I don’t mind if you get some, as long as I get more.
Every turn feels important in Dragonrealm. The clock is ticking as other players send their pieces to a location. Should you dive in too or wait for the right combination of cards? Even watching a player Rest is important. Did they just pull the cards they need to Explore next turn? Should I strike now?
Not that Resting is without its share of perils. Goblins might pop up, spoiling the odds of capturing a location. And an ill-timed rockslide tests your desire to build the perfect hand.
In a more serious game these chaotic elements would feel tiresome. Here, they actually add to the storytelling. “I was this close to having it all my way. And then you triggered a rockslide, spoiling everything! Clumsy oaf.”
Additionally, the game includes an alternate to Adventurer’s Academy: Adventurer’s Alley. Your pawns sent here can’t help directly with your die rolls. Instead, they can be used to purchase more Enhancement cards. Need to power through a difficult Storm? Take the Dwarf Hammer with you. Tied for control of a location? The Wizard’s Hat can put you in charge!
Another bit of brilliance comes out in the way failure is handled. Not only is an adventurer sent to where he can help you later, but unlike in a successful attempt, you keep the cards you used. This little detail serves to encourage players to plunge ahead and take a risk, moving the game along nicely.
The allure of any quest is in the stories that emerge after: the twists of Fate, the what-might-have-beens, and the triumphs. Dragonrealm presents an easily approachable, compact game which encourages the players to craft their own story with each decision they make.
Dragonrealm creates a space in which older players can plan a strategy while younger players might crash ahead in pursuit of treasure. There’s room for both approaches. In fact, you might find everyone watching and learning from each other.
Hybrid games which combine board and role playing elements have become wildly popular in the past several years. Mostly, these are longer affairs, which delve into great detail over multiple sessions and clearly speak to an older, more experienced group of players. Dragonrealm makes room for all ages, inviting everyone to play together.
Dragonrealm is a wonderful introduction to hybrid adventure games and we’re glad to see it earn both our awards. In less than an hour, you can walk away with a fun story based on strategic decisions and challenges for players young and old to enjoy.
Just don’t get in my way, because that treasure is mine!
Written by: Doug Richardson
Designer: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankwich
Publisher: AEG Art: Dylan Mangini
2-6 players 15-30 minutes ages 8+
Time to teach & learn: 3 minutes
It’s dinnertime! What do we have to eat?
Let’s see…. lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onion, carrots, and cabbage.
Salad. We have salad.
Salad? What’s the point? That’s it! Let’s have a Point Salad!
There are all kinds of veggie cards available to you. Who can assemble them into the tastiest meal?
Point Salad has 108 cards, depicting one of the six salad ingredients on one side: lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, and cabbage. On the back side of each card is a unique scoring ability, which you will use to make your salad stand out from the rest. The corners of the point scoring side also show which salad ingredient is on its reverse.
Point Salad is a card drafting game in which players assemble salad ingredients and point cards to score as much as possible, in as many ways as possible.
Shuffle the deck, and divide the cards into three piles, points side up. From the three piles, flip out two cards each, veggie side up. This will form the six card Veggie Market.
On your turn you will take cards and place them in front of you. You will either:
Take two cards from the Veggie Market OR
Take one point card from the top of one of the three decks
Additionally, once per turn, you may take a free action. You may flip over any point card to its veggie side. Note that you may never flip a card from its veggie side to its point side.
Why flip? Well, maybe that point card isn’t working out for you. Maybe the card is more valuable as a veggie. Or perhaps, by flipping the card you can keep an opponent from scoring a point card of his own.
After you’ve taken your turn, turn over cards from the decks to fill any holes in the Veggie Market. If a deck runs out of cards, cut the biggest remaining deck in half, and slide the bottom half over to fill in.
The game continues, each player collecting salad cards or point cards, until all the cards have been drafted.
You’ll consider all the veggies you’ve collected in your salad to see how many different ways they might help you score. Each salad card is used to score each point card.
Point cards present a huge variety of scoring opportunities. Some will award points for a specific veggies. Some ask you to collect one type of veggie, but penalize for others. Some ask you to compare with other players. Do you have the most or least of a veggie?
Here’s an example!
If the veggie and point cards above make up your salad at the game end, you would score:
- 6 points (3 cabbage x 2 points)
- 15 points (3 sets of lettuce + cabbage).
- 4 points (3 lettuce x 3, minus 5 points for onions)
- 8 points (One set of 3 onions).
- 15 points (5 onions x 3, no peppers)
- 10 points if you had the most lettuce, or tied for the most.
Your salad would score 48 points!
Most games start with a clear cut goal for all players. Be the first across the finish line, or the first to score 100 points. The players all share the same goal from the beginning. This is true of Point Salad: to win, you must outscore your opponents.
Some games alter this formula by adding a slight twist in the form of variable scoring goals. Player A might score more points than anyone for his donkeys, while Player B will profit if they concentrate on cows. Whether a player chooses these goals, or has them assigned, the goals are just variations on a theme.
Point Salad blows all this up from the start. You know you need to build a salad. And you know you need to score points. How you accomplish this is all up to you.
Need direction? Grab a promising looking point card, and start taking veggies which fit that goal. Later in the game, maybe you’ll find a complementary point card which works with what you’ve already assembled.
Or maybe, you just start taking salad cards. After all, you get twice as many cards per turn than point cards. Why not pick some veggies, and wait to see what point cards fit? There’s no hurry. You might not even take a point card until the game is half over.
The point is, in Point Salad there is no scripted play. The choices are all up to the players from Turn One. Although you’re all using the same ingredients (the cards), each player’s salad will be unique . The 108 different scoring cards provide an almost infinite variety, ensuring that no two games are ever likely to feature the same paths to victory.
The term Point Salad is a nerdy joke among gamers. Any game which offers a large variety of ways in which to score points is dubbed a “point salad” game. Think of a point salad game like a giant salad bar. You load your plate with whatever you need to score points.
Here, the designers have run amok with this idea, and produced a game with a previously unfathomable number of ways to score. Point Salad invites us to the biggest salad bar ever. All the salad basics are represented by the veggie cards.The point cards represent every conceivable garnish and dressing you could ever ask for.
When everything you do scores points, playing a run of the mill point salad style game could seem a mechanical exercise, robbed of all joy. It could even be overwhelming . Too much of a good thing is just too much. And this could lead to paralysis.
But Point Salad makes this trick work.
Point Salad concentrates on the basics. Take two salad cards or take a point card. That’s the game! Play so simple, kids can compete, and have fun. Yet within this simple structure a world of possibilities opens up, presenting even hardcore gamers with engaging challenges. We think that Point Salad proves that playing with your food can be Major Fun.
Written by: Doug Richardson
|Release: 10/14/2019||Download: Enhanced | MP3|
|Run Time: 79 min||Subscribe: Enhanced | MP3 | RSS|
|5211 is a press-your-luck card game with deep roots in casual classics. On one level, it’s a kissing cousin to stud poker.Cards are selected by each player in secret and then played out: first 2, then 1, then 1. Then we score. Only cards in the majority color score… as long as the total isn’t pushed too high!
If everyone can plays nice, all have the potential to benefit. But, the minute you get too greedy, you’re likely to get bit and another color will score.
5211 has two lives. One as a modern game that can be as thinky as you want it to be. One as a bridge for social interaction, inspired by card nights with family and friends from days gone by.
Listen in to discover how a game so simple in design but rich in its strategy and tactics can be a source of joy for all. We think anyone can play and find Major Fun in 5211.
Designer: Tsuyoshi Hashiguchi
Publisher: Next Move, Ghenos
Artist: Chris Quilliams
2-5 players 20-30 min. ages 8+ MSRP $13
Time to teach/learn: 5 minutes
Music credits include:
|Release: 4/15/2018||Download: Enhanced | MP3|
|Run Time: 56 min||Subscribe: Enhanced | MP3 | RSS|
|A treasure hunter’s life is never easy. Especially when the ship with your treasure capsizes and all your loot starts to float away!
Flotsam Fight is a card shedding game that plays like an old classic.Your goal is to put as many treasure cards as you can onto lifeboats. The problem is, each treasure will only fit onto certain boats. And when one player finishes loading up, you don’t want to be stuck with an armful of big loot!
Tune in to see why we think Flotsam Fight packs a ton of Major Fun into such a small box.
Designers: Tomoyuki Maruta
Publisher: Oink Games
Music credits include: